Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Bishop Giuseppe Versaldi

Bishop Giuseppe Versaldi
Bishop of Alessandria

Alessandria is a city in the Italian area of Piedmont, southeast of Turin, southwest of Milan, a suffragan diocese of Vercelli, where the famous anti-Arian St. Eusebius was bishop from 340-371.

Bishop Versaldi is 65, born July 30, 1943 in Villarboit, a municipality of Vercelli. June 1967 ordained a priest. 1972-6 earns degrees in psychology and canon law at the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome.

1976 founding director of diocesan family counseling in Vercelli. President of the Federation of Regional Piedmontese Counselors of Christian inspiration. From 1977 pastor in Vercelli.

From 1980 teaches psychology and canon law at the Gregorian. 1981 admitted as advocate to the Roman Rota. Professor of anthropology at the Studio of the Roman Rota. 1985 referendario, 1990 voter, and 2007 member of the Supreme Tribunal of the Apostolic Signatura, the highest Vatican court.

1994 appointed vicar general of Vercelli by Archbishop Tarcisio Bertone, which he remained through 2007.

Appointed bishop of Alessandria, April 2007.

Bios: Catholic hierarchy diocesan website

Bishop Versaldi is a publishing scholar and practitioner in both psychology and canon law. Some bibliography:

“Elementa psychologica matrimonialis consensus” in the Gregorian’s journal Periodica de Re Morali Canonica Liturgica 71 1982, 179-209 and 231-253 studies, as blurbed, love in matrimonial consent and seeks to integrate John Paul’s theology of marriage with psychology.

“The dialogue between psychological science and canon law” in Burke, Grocholoewski, Pompedda, and Versaldi “Incapacity for Marriage; Jurisprudence and Interpretation” Acts of the III Gregorian Colloquium, RB Sable, editor (1987).

“Psychology And Marriage Consent” in Forum 6 1995 79-102 (Malta archdiocese canon law review) 1995

“The Contribution of Psychology to Canon Law” in a volume celebrating 25 years of the Institute of Psychology of the Gregorian University, “A journey to freedom: an interdisciplinary approach to the anthropology of formation,” edited by Franco Imoda, SJ (Peters 2000), former Gregorian rector and psychologist. The volume asks, “Can psychology & religion engage in constructive dialogue? Has psychology a contribution to make in Christian formation?”

“Cristo modello degli sposi; Come possono i coniugi imitare Cristo non sposato?” (“Christ as model for spouses. How can a married couple imitate the unmarried Christ?”) (EDB 2003) Blurb: With the experience of a pastor and teacher, Versaldi attempts to combine the perspectives of critical exegesis, gender studies, theology, and psychology in posing the question, how can the love of Christ for the Church, which is a nuptial/virginal love, become a model of conjugal love?

“Origins and Bases of a Study of the Human Person,” in Manenti, Guarinelli, Zollner “Formation and the Person: Essays in Theory and Practice” (Peeters 2007), which, as blurbed, gathers the foundational concepts that characterize the approach to the person, as human and as Christian, which has been developed at the Institute of Psychology of the Pontifical Gregorian University during 35 years.

“L'uomo debole a la capacità per autodonarsi: quale capacità per il matrimonio” (“The capacity of the weak human person for self-donation; what capacity for marriage?”) Ius ecclesiae 19 2007 567-588.

Spoke on a 2008 conference panel on the psychological implications of the 2005 “Instruction Concerning the Criteria for the Discernment of Vocations with regard to Persons with Homosexual Tendencies” (with other Legionary visitator Gianfranco Ghirlanda who spoke on the Instruction’s canonical aspects).

As practitioner of both psychology and canon law and scholar of the intersection between the two, Bishop Versaldi would bring intriguing qualifications to the visitation. He studies the human person philosophically in the manner of John Paul, has considered the canonical implications of homosexuality on the priesthood, and is an expert on the psychology of vocation, and, with years of experience on the Roman Rota and as family counselor, on how emotional and mental difficulty affect the validity of sacramental marriage.

He is qualified to take up many questions the moment demands: those of the juridical and emotional effects of the pan-sexual Father Maciel on his institute, the effects of the cult of his personality, the validity of vows and sacramental ordination in an atmosphere of an unhealthful, coercive, manipulative and disintegrating psychological approach, and altogether the clash between John Paul personalism and the traditional religious emotional self-annihilation as practiced in the Legion.

Pressing canonical issues to be examined include alleged breaches of canon law in Legionary life such as violation of the internal forum and violation of the confessional. It has been alleged that Legionary “apostolic schools” dodge canonical norms for minor seminaries as do “spiritual dialogues” norms for spiritual direction. Examination of the canonical status, or rather limbo, of Regnum Christi consecrated women, who allegedly lack appropriate legal recourse, is an exceptionally important priority for the canon lawyers of the visitation.

Bishop Versaldi may have enough seniority and security as a Vatican jurist to explore the cover-ups within the Vatican itself that protected Father Maciel and the Legionaries decades ago, recently, and even currently.

Versaldi seems not among the Vatican Legionary protectors. He is close to Secretary of State Tarcisio Bertone, who appointed him his vicar general in Vercelli, and who succeeded Legionary supporter Angelo Sodano as Secretary of State in 2006 and supplanted Legionary supporter Cardinal Franc Rodé, Prefect of the Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life, in taking the lead in the visitation. Versaldi is a colleague of another visitator Gianfranco Ghirlanda, who has taught canon law at the Gregorian through Versaldi’s years there as student and teacher. According to La Journada, Versaldi is the closest friend of Pope Benedict among the visitators.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Who are the apostolic visitators?

I do not know when (or if) the men reported to be the choices for apostolic visitators of the Legion will be named officially. Perhaps they are at work already. But, until then, we may speculate about what qualities and background they would bring to their visitation.

Here is a sketch of Bishop Ricardo Watty Urquidi, who would be responsible for Mexico.
Here is a sketch of Bishop Giuseppe Versaldi of Italy.
Here is a sketch of Rev. Gianfranco Ghirlanda , rector of the Gregorian University in Rome.
Here is a sketch of Denver Archbishop Charles Chaput.

Margarita in a comment below has contributed the visitators' contact information.

Bishop Ricardo Watty Urquidi, M.Sp.S.

Bishop Ricardo Watty Urquidi, M.Sp.S. (Missionaries of the Holy Spirit)
Bishop of Tepic, Nayarit, Mexico

Tepic is the capital of the Mexican state of Nayarit, in central Mexico on the Pacific coast, some 150 miles northwest of Guadalajara.

The Missionaries of the Holy Spirit is an order founded in Mexico City in 1914 by Venerable Félix de Jesús Rougier, with some 400 priests and religious and 57 parishes in 7 countries: Mexico, United States, Italy, Costa Rica, Spain, Chile and Colombia.

Their spirituality emphasizes the cross and Christ as priest and victim.

Their mission: “The only one who sanctifies is the Holy Spirit. Therefore, as his missionaries, our first task is to work with him in the sanctification of all, helping each person to perform their particular mission.

“With the Church, we concern ourselves to know and understand the world we live in: its history, its culture, its aspirations. We want to make our own the hopes and the joys, sorrows and anxieties of the men and women of today, especially the poor, and with all to struggle to build a world more just and human, where we can live as sons and brothers according to the plan of God.”

Bishop Watty Urquidi is 70, born 16 July 1938 in San Diego, California, of Mexican parents, moves with his family to Mexico City in 1951. At 13 enters the apostolic school of the Missionaries of the Holy Spirit, in Tlalpan, Mexico City, at 18 enters the novitiate of the congregation, drops the American and keeps his Mexican citizenship.

1962-4 taught at the minor seminary of the diocese of Alajuela, Costa Rica and Quetzaltenango, Guatemala. 1968 ordained a priest in Mexico City. 1971 parish priest at San Marcos, Mexicaltzingo, Mexico City and superior of the Community of the Holy Spirit. 1974-80 vice-superior, Province of Mexico of the Missionaries of the Holy Spirit.

1980 appointed auxiliary bishop of Mexico City, under Cardinal Ernesto Corripio (archbishop 1977-94). 1989 appointed first bishop of new diocese of Nuevo Laredo, Tamaulipas, on the American border. 2008 appointed bishop of Tepic.

For the Mexican Bishops Conference (CEM): 1980-1983 President of the Commission for Religious. 1983-1988, 1994-2000 President of the Commission for the Institutes of Consecrated Life. 2004-2006 President of the Commission for the Laity.

Bios: Catholic-hierarchy Tepic diocesan website

As bishop of Nuevo Laredo from 1989-2008, Watty Urquidi was noted for his committed concern for the rights of migrants and outspokenness against violence in his border diocese from drug trafficking and organized crime.

On 13 January 2008 celebrating Mass with other bishops of border dioceses for the Day of the Migrant in Laredo, Texas he homilized: "The church is a family without borders." By virtue of baptism, "we have a gift to serve the needy, the poorest. Unfortunately there are more today than at any other time."

He participated in the preparation of the pastoral letter on immigration “Strangers No Longer: Together on the Journey of Hope; A Pastoral Letter Concerning Migration from the Catholic Bishops of Mexico and the United States ” (January 2003).

Horacio Garza Garza, Mexican Congressman from Nuevo Laredo, was an assassination target in February 2007. Watty Urquidi characterized the attempt on Garza’s life as an aggression against the community… The bishop called for an end to unlawful detentions, kidnappings and wanton killings, adding that these aggressions “are an attack on humanity and God.”

Watty Urquidi asked for a Christmas 2007 truce from drug violence:
Bishop Watty is urging drug lords and other criminals in Nuevo Laredo to stop kidnapping and killing, at least during the holy Christmas season, a traditional time of peace and family. "It's grotesque the way violence is unleashed with kidnappings at the national and local levels. It must stop… Depriving someone of life is a reprehensible act. These people live with material goods that make them lose their conscience.”

Their actions are inhumane, the Catholic leader said, and they should seek forgiveness from He who would save their souls. It would be best to stop all criminal activity, Watty added, but at least during the time of Jesus' birth, there should be a truce. Watty described those who live a criminal life as slaves, but he added that they can leave that life behind to start “a life that's satisfying, free and healthy.”

State police have stepped up their patrols and are prepared to take quick action against those who commit crimes during this Christmas season, officials said. Bishop Watty said he can't verify whether the government is meeting its obligation to defend the safety of its citizens, but he said he recognizes that additional forces have been brought to Tamaulipas with the hope of quelling the violence that has marked criminal activity all along the border.

"The more than 5,000 members of the Army and law enforcement can help us live with more tranquility," Watty said. "We hope they can do more, and we have faith that their strategies will help bring peace to our cities and streets."

The bishop said it's urgent to eradicate the evil that his sifted through those groups of men, and sometimes women, who are embedded in violence. He also said that members of the media bear some responsibility for fomenting fear among the public when they provide gruesome reports on criminal activities. The Catholic faithful must continue to put its faith in God and the church, and prayer is needed to release the hatred that so often rests deep in the hearts of criminals, Watty said.
from the Laredo Morning Times 17 December 2007

Experience with conflict resolution: in 1980, according to milenio.com , he mediated a dispute between members of the Church of the Candelaria in Mexico City and the Dominicans.

Participated in a round-table discussion on “The Continental Mission, participation and integration of the Ecclesial Movements and New Communities” at the 2008 Second Congress of Ecclesial Movements and New Communities in Bogota.

Watty Urquidi takes an interest in voter participation. In November 2007 he encouraged the faithful of Nuevo Laredo to vote, “We cannot permit absenteeism to defeat responsible participation, because that degrades and weakens democratic processes. Let us rise from our comfort and our inertia, and indifference and fulfill our civic duty at the polls.”

In April 2009 he sheepishly confessed to the press of Nayarit that he forgot to change his voting registration from Nuevo Laredo to Tepic and was looking to make sure he could register to vote on July 5.

Bishop Watty Urquidi would bring to the visitation the experience of having been himself in a religious order from age 13. He was attending the MSpS apostolic school in the same Tlalpan borough of Mexico City, in the same 1950s, where Father Maciel was behaving inappropriately in the Legionary apostolic school.

He has himself formed and taught young religious seminarians and himself is a member of a Mexican religious order founded in the first half of the 20th century, but one with a more placid record of recruitment and service than the Legionaries.

With five terms within the last 30 years as President of the Mexican Episcopal Commissions on religious life, he could scarcely have wider experience of consecrated life in Mexico.

According to ciperchile.cl, he is independent of the pro-Legionary Mexican clergy and bishops. Mexico City Cardinal Archbishop Norberto Rivera Carrera (from 1995) is prominent among them.

Monday, May 18, 2009

The Mission Society of Mandeville as Legionary prospect

Exlcblogger wants to make sure you know the story from Pete Vere and life-after-RC of the Mission Society of Mandeville in Jamaica and how it was founded from the wreck of the Sons of Mary. An analogy of hope for the wreck of the Legionaries.

…Have you had the traumatizing experience of leaving your own Congregation, or contemplating doing it, heartbroken yet still full of zeal of the Church and not knowing where to go or where to start? Perhaps you could relate well to the Mission Society of Mandeville, a vibrant community of priests and brothers found in Jamaica, West-Indies (the Caribbean). An ex-Lc visited them some time ago.

This Mission Society was Founded by the first Bishop of Mandeville, the Most Rev. Bishop Paul M. Boyle, former Superior General of the Passionist Order upon the urging of the Society for the Propagation of the Faith in Rome almost a decade ago. It is a diocesan Society of Apostolic life which has received a number of diocesan approvals as well as a Decree of Encouragement from the Bishops of the island nation of Jamaica, including the President of the Episcopal Conference.

The initial members of this missionary society went through something very similar to what the LC's are going through. They belonged to the Sons of Mary, a Canadian group which basically "went mad" and is now in schism with the Church because of false mysticism and other warped attitudes too long to describe here. Having also known the Sons of Mary, this ex-LC also knows that there were some healthy spiritual characteristics in the Sons of Mary that were identical to the LC's. Indeed in the mid 80s, the Sons of Mary were the only religious with which the members of the LC's could mingle freely. Their devotion to the Eucharist, to the Blessed Mother and their faithfulness to the Pope were akin to that of the LC's.

At any rate, the Sons of Mary were an international group serving in Italy (in two dioceses) in France, in Canada the United States and Jamaica. Once the group went "off the deep end" a group of these religious left the Sons of Mary "en bloc" in an act of faith, desiring to continue to serve the Church as priests and brothers and yet maintain what was "salvagable." The trauma they felt was deep. The separation from their institute cut them to the innermost recesses of their being. Yet out of this "death experience" came new life! I am sure that some of you out there would find in them a sympathetic ear. Perhaps some of you would want to join them.

God helped this group of brave men that this ex-LC personally knows. Indeed the Bishop of Mandeville for a few years before these sad events concerning the Sons of Mary took place was nurturing the idea to found a Society dedicated to Mission for Life in the Caribbean. When the tragic events affected this group, he decided to go ahead with this dream and found a Mission Society. He "seized the day" and he asked these ex Sons of Mary if they wanted to engage themselves in forming a new group. After prayer and discernment, these first few members agreed to the Bishops' proposition. The Bishop then officially founded the Society and gave the Society its statutes. The first elected Superior was the very Rev. Monsignor Michael Palud who is presently the Vicar General of the Diocese of Mandeville. He is also the official translator of the Bishop's Conference of the Antilles Region. He can be reached at msgrmichael@gmail.com. They have a website: www.themissionsocietyofmandeville.org.

Later, after the Foundation, other members joined. Most of the members of this society are tri-lingual and speak English, French and Italian. A number of them also speak Spanish and Portuguese. The Society runs a secondary school, a home for abandoned children, a retreat house and a number of parishes. A few months ago, Cardinal Dias of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples wrote to another Archbishop in the Caribbean telling the Most Rev. Robert Rivas, O.P. archbishop of Castries to look to The Mission Society of Mandeville for help for his Diocese. Just consider...because of the similarities, maybe that could be a solution for some of you out there. Think about it, think about the potential this might create for the good of the Caribbean church ! I have a feeling that you would be received with open arms.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Timeline additions

Thanks to those of you who have commented on and added to the Legionary timeline, exlcblogger publicly. Let’s all keep adding. As one of you said, a “timeline is a good way to view MM's life in its entirety, to avoid considering the mistress and daughter as mere evidence of a one time lapse, but rather as a lapse among many lapses that spanned a lifetime and was really part of a lifestyle.”

I have added the death of Servant of God, Maura Degollado Guizar, “Mama Maurita,” Father Marcial Maciel’s mother, on Christmas Day 1977. Can any of you confirm that Father Maciel was away for a number of days at the time and missed her funeral? Father Maciel seemingly missed the canonization of his great uncle, Rafael Guízar Valencia, perhaps for ill health, on 15 October 2006.

Another friend writes about the color film documentary made of Father Maciel’s ordination in 1944, how extraordinary the arrangements must have been to pull off a color film in Mexico at the time, and how he saw the film several times in his years in the Legion. “The camera man keeps panning up above Maciel, where there is the actual, original image of Our Lady of Guadalupe and a strong light, I think it's sunlight through a window. When I saw it, I always thought the camera man thought he saw some sort of miraculous sign going on with the strong light and was trying to capture the miracle on film, sort of like Fatima or something. Also creepy about the version we were shown in Novitiate, is that they used Maciel's voice narrating how the ordination took place. There is slow, sort of new age/mystical type music in the background while Maciel's slow, relaxed voice explains what happened that day.”

To those who task me with disrespecting luminaries Mary Ann Glendon and George Weigel by casting their words back at them: I understand how much good they have done and how anyone can make a mistake, but do they understand the spiritual agony they inflicted from their privileged places when they imputed unorthodoxy to those who found it perfectly obvious that the Legionaries, their well-sounding words to the contrary, were manipulative and corrupt?

Monday, May 4, 2009

President Ashcroft and the Legionaries

A brief story in the Atlanta Journal Constitution on Friday contained several remarkable statements by Southern Catholic College President Dr. Jeremiah Ashcroft about the school’s emerging new affiliation with the Legionaries. He said it will be beneficial because the Legionaries are one of the few Catholic religious orders that is growing and because they have a strong associated lay order. He said that “concerns over negative reports about the order were alleviated when Archbishop Wilton D. Gregory of Atlanta, a college board member, affirmed the affiliation as a good move.” He said, “Our sense of [the apostolic visitation] is that it is a good thing by Rome and will result in an even stronger order.”

I wish reporter Christopher Quinn had made a little more of his opportunity to converse with President Ashcroft. Can Ashcroft prove the growth of the Legionaries with valid statistics or is that an unexamined cliché? Is he aware that there has been and may well be further attrition in the order and in Regnum Christi as a result of the now widespread knowledge that the founder was a fraud? The Legionaries are under investigation for sexual and financial corruption and this recommends them? How can Archbishop Gregory assure him that the Legionaries will continue to exist after the visitation when his brother archbishop in Baltimore Edwin O’Brien has said that that in itself is an issue for the visitation to consider? Does Archbishop Gregory claim the same powers as Cardinals Rodé and Sodano to keep the Legionaries from harm, no matter what they do?

If Legionary Vocation Director Rev. Anthony Bannon was telling donors in March that the Legionaries could barely afford heating oil this winter , where’s the money coming from to bail out the College? Or was Father Bannon exaggerating a little? Can Ashcroft guarantee that the Legionaries have given up their Founder’s attitude that the primary goal of Legionary schools is recruitment ?

I wonder if President Ashcroft will converse with me, a pseudonymous no-account, but concerned and well-intentioned.